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Old 11-20-2015, 03:11 PM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default [Basic] Skill of the week: Intelligence Analysis

Intelligence Analysis is an IQ/H TL skill that's about putting information together. The defaults are IQ-6 or Strategy (any)-6. Specifically, it is about analysing and interpreting intelligence information, to deduce enemy plans and capabilities, judge the quality of information and/or its sources, and so on. You can't use it to gather information, but it can plausibly suggest where to look for more.

The GM rolls this skill, and provides insight on a success. If you have some information that is deliberately deceptive, the GM rolls a Quick Contest between Intelligence Analysis and the skill used for deception, and tells you about it if you win. Modifiers include -1 to -5 for incomplete information, and -3 for complex or technical subjects, unless you have an appropriate skill for understanding them.

The Illuminated advantage and Expert Skill (Conspiracy Theory) provide partial alternatives to this skill. It can be very useful in conjunction with Observation, and Strategy has a default from it. Optional specialisations often make sense for Intelligence Analysis. and Basic provides the example of (Traffic Analysis), the extraction of information from radio call signs and the traffic between them. Intelligence Analysis appeared at 3e, but there weren't any rules for using it; those appeared in Compendium I for 3e.

Basic reckons that in most settings, only the military, intelligence and security services teach this skill. That seems to includes police, who are suggested as often providing Intelligence Analysis as Contacts, on B45; the Investigator template on B245 also features the skill. I think I'd be willing to let anyone with a lot of skills on a particular topic take specialised Intelligence Analysis for it. However, there's a potential overlap with Current Affairs: knowing a lot about what's happening in a field often suggests things that might be going to happen.

Intelligence Analysis is a fairly common template skill for investigators, military officers, spies and counterspies. Action also gives it to cinematic hackers, conspiracy nuts and journalists, uses it as an investigative skill similar to Criminology, and makes it an important skill in understanding a situation well enough to make a plan for action. Fantasy gives assassin's guilds Intelligence Analysis and shows how PCs can affect battles from behinds the front line with this, and other, skills. High-Tech clarifies that analysis of aerial or satellite photographs is done with this skill. Horror shows how useful the skill is for investigations. Madness Dossier's weird insights into human minds can grant Talents that include this skill. Infinite Worlds points out that Intelligence Analysis can take cross-world familiarity penalties. Mass Combat has a lot of uses for this skill, as does Monster Hunters. Mysteries uses it for detecting falsehoods in written communication. As usual, PU3 and PU7 have applicable Talents and Wildcard skills. Powers uses it for Oracle (Digital). Social Engineering can use it for identifying relationships, improving presentations, finding secretive government departments, finding out things that help with negotiations, discovering secrets, discovering what impression the media are making on a population, suppressing the population of a totalitarian state, and making diplomatic agreements. Spaceships has rules for operations centres that can help with this skill, among others and Supers can use it for finding hidden bases.

In play, this skill is one of the ones that provide answers, of the kind that some GMs feel players should be working out for themselves, especially since that looks more possible with Intelligence Analysis than, say, Forensics. However, that makes it hard to play a character with very different capabilities from the player. I compromise on this issue. I'm happy to let players try to solve the problem themselves (and give them hints if their characters have good analysis or deduction skills), because being inspired by a character and a game to go beyond one's usual mental limitations is such a wonderful experience when it happens. But if they're stuck, I'll let them fall back on skill rolls.

Historical examples of deception, such as Operation Fortitude suggest (a) that intelligence analysts should always be suspicious about information that fits a known story very well and (b) that applying large amounts of resources can create a deception that's very hard to penetrate.

I've used this skill quite a bit in games, but always for its intended purpose and in its usual context. Have you done anything strange with it?
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Old 11-20-2015, 06:30 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Intelligence Analysis

It can be used by a Free Trader in the normal format as well as with the specialty Market Analysis variant(if you know where a war is going to blow up in everyone's face you can predict where to take your ship).

An adaptation can be made for gambling(Stewball never drinks water and only drinks wine, this track is longer then normal, so Stewball will probably be overeager and tire himself out).
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Old 11-20-2015, 09:29 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Intelligence Analysis

Hey, John, do you think you can gather up all these "Basic" skills of the week posts and get a mod to stickie them?
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Old 11-20-2015, 09:43 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Intelligence Analysis

I have had one player use this skill to assist in the construction of forged messages to fool an enemy commander into a particular action.
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Old 11-20-2015, 11:43 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Intelligence Analysis

I definitely interpret Intelligence Analysis as "the skill of getting hints from the GM when we, the players, are stuck." To use it, the PCs need to have actually gone out and gathered information, be that through Observation or fancy uses of Electronics Operation to spy on people, Filch to steal files, Forensics to examine clues, Interrogation to grill prisoners, Research to dig around in stacks of documents, or even Current Affairs to pore over the news and look for hidden meaning. I typically have some "How secret is this?" penalty in mind and let each intelligence-gathering effort knock off -1. Success on the Intelligence Analysis roll gives enough exposition to move the plot along; failure mostly means gathering more intel and trying again.

I have no problem with this approach because I don't like forcing the players to depend only on their real-life IQ scores and skills to solve mysteries that their alter-egos are supposedly experts at solving. I wouldn't make them pick a mocked-up lock instead of rolling vs. Lockpicking and I wouldn't hand them 1,500 pages of spreadsheets instead of allowing an Accounting roll, so I have no issues with puzzle-solving via skill use.
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Old 11-21-2015, 12:50 AM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Intelligence Analysis

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghostdancer View Post
Hey, John, do you think you can gather up all these "Basic" skills of the week posts and get a mod to stickie them?
Or at least collate them into a single "Skills of the Week" index thread?
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Old 11-21-2015, 01:40 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Intelligence Analysis

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghostdancer View Post
Hey, John, do you think you can gather up all these "Basic" skills of the week posts and get a mod to stickie them?
They'd fill up several pages already. They won't get deleted unless forum policy is changed quite seriously.
Quote:
Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
Or at least collate them into a single "Skills of the Week" index thread?
The easy way to find them is to use tag search. Every single one is tagged "skill of the week", that was one of the things I planned before starting. The results are here.
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Old 11-21-2015, 02:07 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Intelligence Analysis

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
I definitely interpret Intelligence Analysis as "the skill of getting hints from the GM when we, the players, are stuck."
That's how you describe it in GURPS Action.

You mention Criminology and Intelligence Analysis (and IIRC 2-3 other skills) as being the go-to skills to roll for when the players are out of ideas for what their characters might do.

Me, I'm particularly interested in Intelligence Analysis from an in-world perspective. Is it recognized as a skill? Is it taught? If yes, is it taught formally or informally? And at which TLs does this start happening?
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Old 11-21-2015, 02:25 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Intelligence Analysis

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Knutsen View Post
Me, I'm particularly interested in Intelligence Analysis from an in-world perspective. Is it recognized as a skill? Is it taught? If yes, is it taught formally or informally? And at which TLs does this start happening?
Yes, it's a skill that is taught by specialised defence training institutions, intelligence agencies and a few universities. It seems to be known by a variety of names, such as "analytic tradecraft" or "analysis" within a context of intelligence work. I suspect, but can't prove, that it first became a discipline in the Prussian General Staff in the early nineteenth century.
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Old 11-21-2015, 03:04 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Intelligence Analysis

I find whenever I'm building templates, this one ends p front and center in pretty much any game with any mystery or investigation. It seems to be the skill of information synthesis, and as a result, it's pretty much always useful when investigating.

It also shows up a lot as a mass combat skill.

There are a few GURPS skills that I see again and again, because they are either useful in pretty much all campaigns, or they tackle a really important topic. Skills like Detect Lies or Body Language, the Influence skills, hand-to-hand, most combat skills, Acrobatics, Stealth, Observation and Intelligence Analysis.
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